LOWER VALLEY — Community residents driving area side roads will soon encounter high boarded farm trucks heaped with portions of the 2019 hops crop. Headed primarily north towards Yakima Chief Hops.
According to Steve Carpenter, Yakima Chief Hops Supply Chain Manager, of the three states providing product to the international hops’ distribution company, Oregon goes first.
The sister state kicks off its harvest the week of August 12, followed by Washington on Aug. 18, and Idaho.
The outlook for mature crops this year, according to Carpenter, is good quality, “but down a little,” due to late winter weather. Carpenter went on to explain the new plantings, or “baby crops,” have also been challenged by weather this year.
“The three long weeks of snow in March,” according to Carpenter, tested the growth and ability of the newly planted hops, to produce as usual.
Typically, Carpenter went on to explain, the baby crops will yield in their first year, 80 percent of full potential. Large and early yield of baby plants’ according to Carpenter, is one of the true advantages of growing hops in this valley.
A second weather-related byproduct of the extended 2019 winter, was the inability of the hop professionals to get into the fields to work and plant. Carpenter said, Hop growers found themselves “four to five weeks behind,” getting started.
All told, the 31-year-old Yakima Chief Hops company is expecting, “37-38 million tons” of hops for distribution this year. The only all-grower owned plant in Washington State distributes throughout the U.S. and internationally.